Obama proposes cutting U.S. strategic nuclear weapons by one-third

U.S. President Barack Obama on Wednesday proposed reducing stockpiles of U.S. strategic nuclear weapons by up to one-third and said he will discuss the move with Russia.

"So long as nuclear weapons exist, we are not truly safe," Obama said in a speech delivered at the historic Brandenburg Gate in Berlin.

Obama stated that the United States is ready to reduce the number of deployed strategic nuclear warheads from the 1,550 allowed the United States and Russia under their New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty to roughly 1,000.

The New START, in effect since February 2011, also restricts the number of delivery vehicles for nuclear warheads, such as intercontinental ballistic missiles, to 800.

In addition, Obama vowed to "work with our NATO allies to seek bold reductions in U.S. and Russian tactical weapons in Europe." Tactical nuclear weapons have smaller yields than strategic warheads and are not restricted under the New START.

Obama expressed confidence in reducing the role nuclear weapons play in U.S. defense capabilities while maintaining "a strong and credible strategic deterrent."

He added that he would work toward the ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty by the United States.

He also announced plans to host a nuclear security summit in the United States in 2016, the final year of his second term.

The mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the two Japanese cities devastated by the U.S. atomic bombing near the end of the World War II, hailed his speech.

"I welcome President Obama's strong resolve to achieve a world without nuclear weapons and count on his continued leadership in abolishing them," Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui said.

Nagasaki Mayor Tomihisa Taue said "the speech offered a tangible plan toward nuclear disarmament, and as victims of a nuclear attack we are hopeful that this will lead to the abolition of nuclear weapons."